ok. thesis is drawing closer & closer to the end, and i’ll admit, it’s making me nervous.
i know i need to crack down this next month, and i will. my real break is over – i wanted to enjoy this last week with my boyfriend, because i won’t be able to see him until thesis over, pretty much. tomorrow, i’ll be going down to my grandparents in Charleston, and the rest of my time with them will be very easy and relaxing, and definitely a place where can i return to the flow of my work.
i don’t really have much to share from this past week, except a small sketch i did when thinking about making my own art in place of avoiding potential copyright. feedback would be appreciated – i’d probably stick to a more black & white scheme than the colors i have of the photo. i was just messing around with GIMP & layer qualities.
come sunday i’ll probably write another blog post with more updates on how things are proceeding, because this needs to get done.
where do i go from here?
ever since last week, i’ve been thinking about the presentation of my work. i know we had walked through the StateU domain hosting site – i’ll be honest, i don’t know if it will work for me. my worries are as followed: i want to create a piece of electronic literature. yes, of course, i want a domain for my portfolio, but can this website do that for me? am i going to be able to do that?
i know wix is not the favorite thing in the world here, apparently – but! if i subscribed to one of their plans, got rid of the wix ads and got my own domain, i know i could also have a domain and make something creative. but, i’m trying my best to explore all my options before going for the most basic one.
i’ve been doing some research on how other people have created their electronic literature. big surprise – there’s not a lot there. i know we’ve talked about platforms like Twine and what not, but that’s not the kind of projection i want my poetry to go in.
i found a compilation by Deena Larsen, a respected member of the electronic literature community: “The Electronic Literature Studio: A list of tools for creating.” I’m interested in Adobe Dreamweaver, but i need to look into the coding side of it more, and if i can do it (i know a thing or two about code, but it’s all pretty basic.) she also suggested Trillex, which is more or less wix, so it’s making me reconsider that wix might be okay.
i’ve also been revisiting the volumes curated in the Electronic Literature Organization to get ideas about platforms and digital storytelling that way. if anyone else has digital storytelling suggestions, please throw them my way!
i took a little break from writing poems this past weekend, since i went back to my undergrad to visit my boyfriend for our one year! it was a nice little visit, but it’s not to say i completely forgot about my other boy, Ginsberg.
i talked to my old professor about my thesis (again) and how it’s coming along. he suggested the movie Paterson, which he explained as a creative, hybrid biography of William Carlos Williams’ life. i guess something in my thesis was reminiscent of the film – probably a creative retelling of a poet’s life through art? i’ve put it on my list of things to watch, either way.
when i came back, i also ran into the head of Kean’s english department. he asked Marissa and I about how the thesis was coming along, and when i explained to him what i was aiming to do, he suggested to talk to a Dr. Gover. Apparently, this professor took classes with Ginsberg, so it might be a resource i look into! i don’t even know what this guy looks like, so i guess i’ll see.
i’ve written a few more poems since last update, but i need to type them out. however, i felt like i needed a regrouping of sorts – i needed to recenter myself and the plot of the poetry. i finally got my copy of Spontaneous Minds, and i got to reread Ginsberg’s interview with Clark for The Paris Review. Ginsberg goes into detail of things he was thinking, people he was interested in, and how he saw the world after the experience, which is what i needed to read in order to refresh my artistic direction.
i have fresher colors to paint with, now, so i’m excited to write some poetry tomorrow. i feel like with each poem i’m coming to a better understanding of my own Ginsberg mind and tongue.
also, i looked at his poetry from june-july of 1948. there’s only four or five poems written at that time (not very good). one of them is “Vision 1948,” a very vague retelling of his Blakeian vision… but it’s very hard to tell, with no context. “A Very Dove” is also unusual… it’s got internal and end rhyme schemes, which was not even typical of his earlier poetry. i wonder if he felt like he was in a poetic rut? or was it just himself experimenting with form? his father was a more traditional poet, so maybe he was taking cues from Louis.
off to what i feel is a strong start for the new semester. i’ve been feeling invigorated and motivated and all that good jazz. i’m ready for my thesis, ready to treat myself better, ready to prepare myself for the real world ahead.
i mentioned i’ve started to develop a new routine, in order to keep my mental & physical health sound: i wake up, do my exercises, make myself a cup of coffee, and sit down at my desk to write poetry in my little book before i log on to my computer, or anything else really. i’ve been feeling very good since starting to do this, which is important to me – i don’t want to have ebbs & flows of motivation & productivity – i need a consistent routine, and i think i’ve found it.
additionally, i’ve ordered a few more books for my thesis (more biographies, more primary Allen sources). one of the books came in today – Family Business: Selected Letters Between a Father and Son, a book containing the letters sent between Allen & his father, Louis. there was one particular letter i was hoping to find, that has been described in a few biographies – one in which Allen comes out to Louis about his sexuality, his affair with Neal, and his subsequent dropping out of Columbia. i assumed that, oh, you know, this book of letters between them would have, you see, the letter in question.
it does not.
instead, it offers a paragraph that explains what the letter says; but alas, no such letter is documented in this book.
however, that doesn’t mean this book is a complete “failure.” there’s two letters from the summer of 1948 that follow Louis’ anger & disappointment in his son.
- The infamous reply from Louis, in which he only writes, “Exorcise Neal.”
- A reply from Louis critiquing a poem Allen wrote.
i’m excited to get the rest of the books, especially Spontaneous Minds.
in the mean time, here’s a (lesser) rough draft of two of the poems i wrote this past week
rough, rough draft / when it is in wayyy better shape, i will share it out via wordpress
I’m also still struggling with a working title… for some reason, though, I keep gravitating toward the words “binge” or “bent.” Maybe moreso bent, as it can be a slang for being intoxicated and gay, which fits Allen to a T.
I’m only worrying that the title might mess with maybe how the poems may feel. I don’t know if that sounds weird, but I can’t explain it. But if I do go with either of those words, I want them to be a play on one of Ginsberg’s titles, or even a line in his poetry. Specifically, I’m focusing on the poems he wrote in East Harlem from June-July in 1948. I think my most promising idea right now is maybe calling it “The Bent Rose.” It’s a play on Blake’s “The Sick Rose,” which is the poem Ginsberg was reading when he had his vision. Also, the image of a bent rose might be intriguing, so it could be a possibility, but something in me isn’t 100% sold – and isn’t Allen himself a bent rose, a vulnerable flower that’s been crippled by emotional turmoil?
Additionally, but maybe off topic, one of my favorite poetic lines Ginsberg uses toward the end of Part I of “Howl” is “and the last furnished room emptied down to the last piece of mental furniture, a yellow paper rose twisted on a wire hanger in the closet, and even that imaginary, nothing but a hopeful little bit of hallucination” (117). That image of the yellow paper rose, in my opinion, is a symbol of his mother, after he signed the papers for her lobotomy. Maybe he also saw himself as a flower? That’s a question for another day.
I’m still thinking about it, trust me, but for now I’m going with “The Bent Rose.” I think. Maybe.
Moving forward, it’s time to begin planning on how this project is going to take shape. In my head since the start of the semester, I’ve had this vague idea of how I wanted it to look, particularly in a digital space. I want to implement pictures from places Ginsberg has been (whether they’re taken from actual photos of his or ones I can take myself), and layer the picture with various clickable easter eggs. For example, if I have a picture of his apartment, I want the user to click a typewriter and have a poem come up, or if they click the radio, maybe a snippet of Jazz starts. Like I said, that’s how I envisioned it at the beginning of the semester, so the idea still seemed a little broad. However, I’ve honed the time period of my project down from a decade to a particular week.
From here, I’m focusing on the week in Allen’s life of when he had his vision that William Blake spoke to him for the first time – I believe that is an extremely important period in his life, and an event that made something inside him change tremendously, in terms of writer identity. In the summer of 1948, he had experienced what he could only describe as enlightenment, as he heard Blake speak to him (Morgan 103). That same time period, he was experiencing a flood of emotions – all of his friends were off doing things while he was stuck taking summer classes, Neal Cassady had rejected him, his dad was disappointed with his homosexuality, and so on. He smoked week everyday in that apartment in Harlem, alone and stuck with his thoughts. I feel like that time period has such potential in creating poetry and is pivotal in how Allen had started to think of himself, especially as a writer, and a prophet.
Thus, for my thesis, I want each section to be envisioned as each day of the week. I need to go back to his interview with The Paris Review to see if he mentions the exact date (or at least day of the week), because I want that to at least have some weight of reality. That will be my next move. The rest of the outline for the day of the week and certain events will be fleshed out after that climax.
Additionally, I know I talked about the digital space project earlier – I’ll map that out more in the future! There’s also strong possibility for a paper version, which I think is totally probable For now, though, I’m focusing on outlining the week. In a few days, I’ll storyboard more of this (mostly, after my portfolio is due for my class tomorrow!)
I wanted to reread “Kaddish” today, and then when I finished, I wanted to hear it read by Allen himself. I know I’ve heard a recording of it before by him, but the one I was listening to just wasn’t doing it a lot of justice. I have it in the back of my mind to listen to an actual kaddish read aloud, because Dr. Rich says it will change the reading of the poem after listening to an actual one, which interested me.
Regardless, I went on Spotify, because Allen Ginsberg (as well as all the Beats) have channels full of recordings of them reading their work. Allen, too, loved to sing and record music, particularly later on – I haven’t really listened to any of it besides “Father Death Blues,” but I’ve been finding them amusing. I think they all speak to his character.
I also ordered three more books, one being Peter Carey’s book about Ned Kelly. The other two are also biographies about Ginsberg, so I’m wondering how / if they differ or can add anything that Bill Morgan hasn’t already covered in his biography of Allen. At any rate, they should be here next week, so I’m excited to read them.
In terms of the proposal: I’m still looking at what OED wants, and I guess I’m struggling writing my proposal to fit my thesis to it. I don’t know why I’m having such a difficult time with it.